Broccoli is one of the best known and most consumed cabbage varieties in France. Originally from Italy, this green cabbage brings a nice color to our plates and allows us to make very varied recipes. Rich in vitamins and mineral salts, it is a green vegetable that you should not deprive yourself of. But do you know all its benefits? Do you know how to choose, preserve and cook it? Do you know the different varieties that exist on the market? Here is a little overview of all the information you need to know about broccoli.
What is broccoli?
Broccoli (Brassica oleracea in Latin), sometimes referred to as “broccoli-sprouts”, “sprouting broccoli” or “cabbage-sprouts” is derived from a variety of wild cabbage, native to Italy. In France, its appearance is more recent and dates back to the 16th century. The broccoli is a vegetable plant, belonging to the brassicassées family, whose size varies between 40 and 80 cm in height depending on the variety. The leaves of this cabbage have a grayish green color, an elongated and toothed shape. The stem of the broccoli cabbage produces, at its top, a cluster of small bouquets ranging from green-white and green-purple depending on the variety. In France, broccoli is mainly cultivated in Brittany.
Health and nutrition benefits of broccoli
Broccoli is a vegetable plant with multiple benefits for the body. It is particularly rich in vitamins C and E. Indeed, its vitamin C content is higher than that of an orange! Moreover, like any vegetable of the cruciferous family, it is also known for its anti-cancer properties because it contains sulforaphane, an antibacterial compound. It limits the risk of breast cancer and cancer of the lower abdomen (bladder, prostate, uterus…). Broccoli has antioxidant powers that help in particular to fight against aging and to maintain good eye health. Rich in vitamins B9, this vegetable is highly recommended for pregnant women. Finally, another major asset, broccoli is low in calories. It is thus ideal within the framework of a mode and to keep the line!
What is the season to eat broccoli?
Broccoli is one of those vegetables that can be found on the stalls throughout the year but whose peak season is from June to November.
How to store broccoli?
Broccoli is a green vegetable that keeps perfectly several days after purchase. To preserve broccoli optimally, we advise you to wrap it in plastic film or leave it in its packaging if it already has one. Place it in the vegetable compartment of your refrigerator.
Broccoli florets can also be frozen. To do this, blanch them for a few minutes in a pot of boiling water. Plunge them into ice water. Wipe them gently and place them in freezer bags. You will be able to enjoy them all year round.
How to cook broccoli?
Broccoli can be cooked in different ways. Ideally, it should not be overcooked in order to preserve its crunchy texture and all its benefits.
And to keep the broccoli’s pretty green color, dip it in a bowl of ice water right after cooking.
How to choose the right broccoli?
Broccoli has been present on our stalls for a long time and with all its assets, it would be a shame to deprive ourselves of it. Here are a few tips on how to choose it. First of all, look at the base of its stem. It should not seem dry or show brown spots. If this is the case, go on your way, the broccoli has certainly been picked several days ago and it will not keep very long. Also observe the color of the broccoli heads: they should have a nice green (or purple depending on the variety) color. The buds should start to open and show a yellow color.
Varieties of broccoli
There are different varieties of broccoli, but the most sold and consumed is the Calabrese variety.
- The broccoli “Calabrese”: it has green color bouquets that are particularly tender and tasty.
- The purple broccoli of the Cape: it is a late variety that distinguishes itself by the purple color of its bouquets. This pretty hue fades somewhat during cooking and prefers steaming.
- The culinary broccoli: this variety offers large bouquets, very rich in flavor.
- Belstar broccoli: this is an excellent variety that produces firm-textured bouquets with excellent taste quality.
How to cook broccoli?
Broccoli can be used in many recipes to delight our taste buds. When cooked, broccoli florets can be used in a delicious salad with a lemon vinaigrette, for example. After steaming, you can fry the broccoli for a few moments in a very hot pan with a drizzle of olive oil or a knob of butter. This grilled broccoli will go wonderfully with your meat and fish dishes. The broccoli can be sublimated in a delicious soup or a creamy velouté, by combining it with potatoes or cauliflower. And if you want to surprise your guests’ taste buds at aperitif time, offer them crunchy broccoli to dip in a homemade sauce.